Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

That’s so, like, totally random …

Random

In the 1990s teenagers called everything and everyone sad – but in the early 2000s this favourite word of disapproval was overtaken by random. In this second decade of the twenty-first century, even those well out of their teens can be heard using it. According to the OED, the ‘without method or conscious decision’ sense […]

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Incony questrists: Shakespeare’s ‘rare ornaments’ of the English language

Shakespeare

Shakespeare was writing at a time when the English language was in an unusual state of flux. Many English books, and even plays (though not those intended for the popular theatre) were still written wholly in Latin, because this was the best way to achieve an international readership. Shakespeare himself uses many Latin tags (Latin […]

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‘Muzyka’ around the ‘terre’: Earth Day and the Oxford Language Web

Oxford Language Web: music

If you didn’t already know, this Friday is Earth Day, an environmental awareness day celebrated around the world each year on 22 April since 1970. The Earth Day Network is looking for a billion separate ‘acts of green’ to be pledged and carried out by individuals aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and to promote […]

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An interactive guide to Prince William’s ancestry

Guide to Prince William's ancestry

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert < King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra < > King George V and Queen Mary < > King George VI and Queen Elizabeth < > Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh < > Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales < > The happy couple: Prince […]

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Birds losing direction followed by weapon (9)

Crossword

Never mind all those fancy games devised to get your brain working – if you want to keep mentally sharp and alert, and at the same time increase your vocabulary, it’s difficult to beat a good crossword. Whether you prefer concise, cryptic, or general knowledge versions, once you start completing a crossword, it can be […]

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Animal words in Oxford Dictionaries Online

Elephant

Oxford Dictionaries Online is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful words, as well as practical help with grammar, English language usage, and writing. Among the 350,000 definitions and entries in our free online dictionary, you will find thousands of words related to animals, from abalone to zorse. If you’ve never heard of a boodie […]

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Compliment or complement?

Compliment or complement

A lot of people get these two words confused. It’s easy to see why: they’re pronounced in the same way and have very similar spellings but they have completely different meanings. If you compliment someone, you are expressing admiration for them, or praising them for something. Here are some examples from the Oxford English Corpus showing the […]

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A smorgasbord of fusion words for the Twitterati

Smorgasbord of fusion words

In March 2011 the social networking site Twitter, launched in 2006, celebrated its fifth birthday. Amid all the media discussion of tweeters, trending, and followers, the term Twitterati has cropped up quite a bit. It’s an odd-looking word, and an example of an interesting and creative variety of word formation, where a word is borrowed […]

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Tweets